Citing budget problems, Antonio Villaraigosa is reducing hours and closing public libraries in Los Angeles.
One ominous result, already, in rougher neighborhoods of Los Angeles: "Kids don't have anywhere to go after school" on Mondays, Caswell says.Elyse Barrere, a librarian in Atwater Village, is haunted by what's unfolding in South Central Los Angeles, where she once worked, at the Vernon branch. There, hundreds of Latino and black students typically sought a quiet homework haven after school. "I just keep thinking about those kids," she says. "The library was a neutral territory where the gangs didn't really come in. It makes me worry about them. It could be a very bad situation." City of Airheads: Villaraigosa Dismantles L.A.'s Vaunted Library System By Patrick Range McDonald, LA Weekly, September 16, 2010
For some reason, the line about libraries being places where the gangs didn't come in reminded of Max Shulman's 1951 short story "Love Is A Fallacy" where the Big Man On Campus tells Dobie Gillis about the latest retro fashion fad:
"All the Big Men on Campus are wearing them. Where've you been?"
"In the library," I said, naming a place not frequented by Big Men on Campus.
Mass immigration in Los Angeles, plus the Minority Mortgage Meltdown, add up to major budget problems. In John Steinbeck's town of Salinas, in 2004, they almost had to close the public libraries for similar immigration-related budget problems.
The managed to scrape the money together somehow, and the John Steinbeck Library is still open, but the problem in 2004 was that the voters (Salinas is now 64 percent Hispanic) were unwilling to vote the taxes need to keep the libraries open. That's because Latinos, by and large, are not big users of of the public library system.